After 30 years of internecine war and fluctuating allegiances, both King Richard III and the contender for this throne, Henry Tudor, were saddled with mutable allies at Bosworth in Leicestershire, ready to switch with the fortunes of battle. When the two vanguards clashed in marshy ground on the morning of 22 August 1485, the Earl of Oxford (commanding the troops of the military ingénue, Henry) slowly gained the advantage over Richard III’s men. But Richard’s reserves, under Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland did not budge. A frustrated Richard then spotted Henry’s standard behind the frontline, and decided to end the engagement by killing the principal. Charging towards his adversary, he managed to fell the Tudor standard-bearer. But at this critical juncture, Henry’s ‘fair-weather’ allies made a decisive move and Sir William Stanley drove into Richard’s flanks, forcing his men into marshy ground. Richard, famously unhorsed, fought heroically, even by the accounts of hostile observers, as his recently discovered skeleton graphically confirms. His forces then disintegrated, while Northumberland’s army withdrew without striking a blow in anger. Richard’s body was taken to Leicester where it was publicly displayed.
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